Review: BimmerTech 2019 CarPlay MMI - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums



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  #1  
Old 08-05-2019, 07:02 PM
Rebound Rebound is online now
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Review: BimmerTech 2019 CarPlay MMI

I moved to a new state recently and I wanted better GPS to help me get around, so I purchased the new BimmerTech CarPlay MMI unit.

The main features of the product: Adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to BMW Entertainment systems. As a bonus, you can add a rear view (reverse) camera, if you donít have one, and you can add a forward-facing camera as well. My car already has a backup camera and I didnít install the forward camera, so I canít review those.

My car is a 2014, so CarPlay activation was not possible and I needed this hardware unit. Installation was fairly straightforward and went as expected. I donít need to describe installation, because Kies Motorsports has a great YouTube video which steps you through the install. His video doesnít show placement of the MMI unit, so I want to add that if you need to remove the glovebox to install the unit next to your radio, as I did, the MMI unit needs to be installed fairly high to allow the panel beneath the glovebox to fit. In my case, thereís a cigarette lighter socket in that panel, it was blocked by the MMI unit, and I had to remove the glovebox again and move the MMI unit higher in order to fit everything back together.

Once thatís all done: It works! It displays CarPlay across the full 8Ē screen in my car, and it looks beautiful. I can make calls, use Apple Maps and Waze, play Apple Music, and more. It controls through the iDrive rotary controller and also using the steering wheel control.

The phone needs to be attached with a USB cable. My car originally came with a ďsnap-in adapterĒ in the center console. I removed that and replaced it with a rubber tray (BMW OEM from ECS). I routed the USB Lightning cable into the console easily and it pokes out of the rubber tray. I get in the car, plug in the phone and close the console. So I donít have any phone cradle or wires visible. Totally stock. You can choose to route the USB cable anywhere you wish. A USB female cable is supplied and you provide whatever USB charging cable you need for your phone, whether itís Android or Apple. You cannot use a wireless charger, because the physical USB connection is needed to send the video to the display.

The way it works is very clever and about 90% as good as a stock solution. (And since you arenít paying BMW $80/year for the feature, maybe itís really 150% as good!)

The different BMW headunits vary somewhat, so Iíll describe how it works in my car:
CarPlay is a ďSource,Ē just like XM, CD or Nav. To switch to it, you can either press end hold the Menu button on the iDrive controller, or press the 8 button on the radio. These produce slightly different results:
Pressing the iDrive Menu button switches the video display to CarPlay, while pressing 8 switches both audio and video to CarPlay. Since I love Satellite radio, this means I can listen to satellite radio (or FM, or CD, etc) while using CarPlay navigation. Pretty cool!

This integration isnít 100% perfect, but it works very well once you get used to it. For example, I can use the 1-7 preset buttons on the radio unit as usual, to switch to any radio station or audio source I wish, while still seeing CarPlay on the screen. Or, I can press the Radio button on the iDrive controller to see the usual iDrive information on the video screen, like radio stations, etc.

One thing is that to make a call, play Apple Music, hear turn-by-turn driving instructions, or to hear Siri, you need to press the 8 button to switch audio. If you get an incoming call while listening to satellite radio, you need to press 8 and then answer your phone, using the iDrive button or the steering wheel button. Itís not very difficult, but it is an extra step. If youíre listening to AppleMusic, then you can more easily answer calls and get turn by turn audio guidance. But if youíre listening to any other audio, such as CD or satellite radio, you cannot hear turn by turn directions, you can only see them. In other words, the MMI unit can only overlay sounds when MMI CarPlay is the sound source. I donít mind this much; it is what it is and BimmerTechís engineers did an outstanding job considering the limits.

Another thing is that, on my car, I can change radio stations using the steering wheel controller and my HUD. But the steering wheel control clicks are also sent to the MMI unit, so if you change stations with the steering wheel, you might cancel guidance or do some other unwanted thing to your phone. Nothing bad, but maybe unwanted.

I have had a few glitches. The first was that the CarPlay display wasnít returning after putting the car into reverse, unless I manually switched input back to CarPlay. But BimmerTechís support was outstanding, and they explained that it was a menu setting related to the front-view camera, which I donít use. After making the setting change to their directions, the problem was solved. Iíve also had the CarPlay lock up twice, and the only remedy was to power down the car. They sent me a software patch intended to fix this problem, but I havenít been able to test it yet. I also havenít been able to test the Android Auto features at all. Mail me your phone and Iíll let you know how it goes.

I have just one issue remaining: GPS performance is sometimes bad, with the phone losing GPS signal. However, this is a phone problem, not a BimmerTech problem. I havenít isolated the cause: It could be that keeping the phone in the console is reducing reception. Maybe I need to keep the phone closer to the windshield. Or it may be a problem in the latest 12.4 iOS update from Apple, which had a ďfixĒ for GPS. Or, perhaps the USB cable becoming an antenna. Iím going to get a ferrite bead to install into the Lightning cable, and weíll see if that helps. Otherwise, Iíll move the Lightning cable and mount the phone on the dash, probably to the left of the steering wheel.

Summary: I highly recommend this product if you want CarPlay, Android Auto, and especially if you want to add a backup and/or front-facing camera. Itís been a very pleasurable addition to my car, and BimmerTech support has been so responsive that they definitely deserve my strongest recommendation.

Last edited by Rebound; 08-07-2019 at 10:21 AM.
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  #2  
Old 08-08-2019, 04:52 PM
Dsnotgood Dsnotgood is offline
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Keeping phone in console is bad idea, that will def kill your gps. Get a pop socket then a pop socket car mount and use it, works awesome. Or put your phone somewhere else but def not in the console. Also how much was it? Sounds cool.
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Old 08-15-2019, 04:26 PM
dspevack dspevack is offline
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I have the old BimmerTech mmi and was looking to upgrade to this.
The old one had 3 video inputs plus smartview, which allows me to screencast from my iPhone to the car screen.
I use this a lot because I have front and rear camera and a night-vision camera, using up all the inputs. The screencast is basically a poor mans carplay. Yes it can be used to cast videos, but I use it if I need to use an app gps instead of the one in the car, or a few other things.

Anyway the importance of chiming in on this thread, is that if you have the old mmi and are interested in the carplay mmi you loose one of your video inputs and your screencast capability. Carplay makes up for the screencast, but it still shorts you a video input.

Dan
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Old 08-16-2019, 01:42 PM
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fondoo1287 fondoo1287 is offline
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so i ordered the bimmertech carplay mmi plus for my 2015 F36 NBT

anyone encounter carplay issues with the audio playing right side for front and rear and nothing for the left side for front and rear?

also, backup cameras, front bumper cameras and side mirror cameras are showing no signals.

waze on carplay is god awful! can't face north

i've contact bimmertech for support.
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Old 08-18-2019, 07:37 PM
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no signals for OEM PDC cameras

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Old 08-18-2019, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fondoo1287 View Post
no signals for OEM PDC cameras
BimmerTechís support has been outstanding. Iím not sure why youíre posting this without first checking with them.
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:52 AM
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Review Update

I can't edit the original post, so here is my update:

I think I've resolved the issue with poor GPS reception. My original plan was to install a ferrite bead on the USB Lightning cable. But when I pulled out the cable, I found that the Lightning cable connection to the MMI unit had become loose, probably when I pulled on the cable during installation. I re-seated the connection, and so far, GPS reception has been much improved. This is with the iPhone 8 inside the center console, with the lid closed, and with my metal convertible top up or down. I'll continue to update as I learn more, but so far, this has fixed the problem.
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Old Yesterday, 11:57 AM
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i am working with bimmertech but just wanted to know if anyone out there is having the same issues...
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